Got any 2s?
Thanks again GreyWizard
Recommended listening for this chapter:
After Harry's birthday, in which there were many presents given the boy (Xander gave Harry his first axe; Hermione, as could be expected, gave him a book of spells; Dawn gave him a book of charms for various things; Willow gave him a book on wiccan magic; Giles gave him a book on banishing spirits), and taunts and threats sent to the Dursleys --Xander and Giles took care of that part-- the rest of the summer involved beaches and the South of France. It also involved an incursion of Fishmen who had increased their numbers since their days on the Sunnydale swim team. They also didn't appreciate that Xander wasn't being a team player.
Harry turned to his fiancée with wide eyes where they were still relaxing on the beach.
“Did that Creature from the Black Lagoon reject just kidnap your dad?” he asked.
Sigh... “Yes, yes it did,” she agreed.
Hermione was about to call her aunt and mom, but then two more showed up and kidnapped Harry by thwacking him on the back of the head with a finny paw.
“Hey! He's not even an official Scooby yet!” Hermione protested as Harry was forced to chew some kind of herb and dragged beneath the waves. Grumbling to herself about idiot Fishmen, she pulled out her cell and hit the speed dial.
“Hi, Mum? Yeah, Dad and Harry just got kidnapped by Buffy's old classmates... No, the Swim team ones... Nope, they never even glanced at me... No, I'm not planning on breaking the Statute of Secrecy... I know you think it's stupid, but I'm the one who has to live with the consequences... I know we're in France now, but that's an international law! ...Muuum! I can't believe you said that!”
Across the city of Nice, Dawn snapped her mobile shut and glanced at her sister, who was looking at a nice sundress with Tonks. “Xander and Harry just got kidnapped by fishmen.”
“Really?” Tonks asked, completely confused.
“'Bout time,” Buffy said. “Here I thought his indoctrination wasn't going to be until he got to school.”
“Indoctrination? Word-a-Day calendar working for you?” Dawn asked.
“Hey! I know big words!” the blonde protested.
Tonks glanced between the two sisters with a bit of confusion. “Why are you so not upset?”
“Oh, we are, but we're waiting for the obligatory 'Let's try to trap the Slayer' note to show up,” Buffy replied with a growl. “We should probably move in the general direction of the beach.”
What they saw when they arrived at the beach was not what they expected. There are two basic reactions to demonic incursions: bedlam or complete rationalization. This wasn't either.
Instead of the full riot or complete peace they expected, they found Hermione, a fishman and a cricket bat. The fishman was cowering with his arms protecting his tender head from her assault.
“GIVE THEM BACK!” the frizzy haired girl screamed as she beat the poor scaly kidnapper with the cricket bat.
Unfortunately for Hermione's demands and wants, fishmen can't really talk when beaten repeatedly, so any response he had, `assuming he spoke English at all, would have made little sense to the girl.
“Hermione!” Buffy called out. “You need to work on your follow through! You can throw your shoulder out swinging like that!”
The blonde woman was quick to take the cricket bat from her niece and show the younger girl the proper way to beat a fishman. “See, if you do it like this, you're using less effort and can cause more pain. Also works better if you aim for the kidneys.”
“Oh, thanks, Aunt Buffy,” Hermione said, swinging the cricket bat again, this time aiming more for the torso.
“Good job, but don't go too far when you're pulling back for another swing,” Buffy said, pantomiming hitting her own fishman. Hermione nodded and made sure to use the proper amount of force and form.
Looking on, Tonks gaped as her girlfriend taught an incoming 4th year how to brutalize a magical creature.
“Are you just going to let them do this?” she asked Dawn. The brunette crossed her arms under her breasts and shrugged.
“They kidnapped my husband and future son-in-law, I'm not feeling too forgiving,” Dawn replied.
“Won't this look bad to the locals?”
“They tend to understand,” Dawn said. “Besides, I suspect that someone else is having the same problem.”
She pointed a bit further down the beach to where a pair of very pretty blonde girls were brutalizing another fishman in a similar manner. Tonks sighed and massaged her temples.
“My paperwork sense is tingling,” she grumbled. “I hate paperwork.”
Harry awoke to find himself wearing nearly nothing, but not the nearly nothing that he had been wearing as beachwear.
No, rather than his pair of stylish trunks with a Hawaiian print, he was wearing something that looked like seaweed bondage gear. It was surprisingly comfortable. Glancing around, he realized that he was far from alone. Fifteen other attractive human males of various ages were trussed up in similar gear.
“Congratulations, Harry!” Xander said from off the side. “You're now officially a Scooby!”
“Huh?” Harry asked intelligently.
“You can't just join up,” Xander replied. “You need to become a Slayer, an impossibility for those of us of the XY chromosome, be a watcher, or be a love interest of a Scooby and get kidnapped by supernatural critters. Now that you have chosen the most difficult path, your next stage of your orientation requires you to survive the encounter. Unfortunately, this tends to have a rather low survival rate without becoming some sort of magical creature yourself, but you're already a wizard, so you should be fine.”
“Uh, okay...” Harry said before glancing around once more. They were in a sea cave of some sort, but it clearly didn't fill completely with water as could be seen by the seaweed line along the wall. The result was a Romanesque grotto with a nice beach, carved marble pillars, and frescoes of naked nymphs, dryads and sirens frolicking with naked men, satyrs and the occasional hermaphrodite. It was not the kind of thing that could be described in detail for someone of Harry's age legally. “What is this place?”
“I'm thinking abandoned Roman temple taken over by fishmen,” Xander hypothesized. “Pretty nice place, though I think it could use a bit of a touch up. Two thousand years of wear and tear can be a bit problematic. I think I know the quarry the marble came from, though.”
“I'm not sure that's going to help us at the moment,” Harry argued, only to be interrupted by three men speaking in rapid fire French. Harry looked back at Xander. “Did you get any of that?”
“Nope, I'm a carpenter, not a linguist,” the one eyed man replied. “You're kidnapped with the wrong in-law for that. My French begins and ends with 'where is the crapper?' unfortunately.”
“How do you say that?”
“Ou est la toilette?” Xander replied in an atrocious accent.
Two of the men pointed in the general direction of the dark end of the grotto.
“Uh, thanks,” Xander replied. “Uh, merci?”
“So, we can see because of the light from the water, I guess that means we're close to the surface out there,” Harry guessed.
“Yeah,” Xander replied, “but who knows how far from shore. And from personal experience, fishmen are faster swimmers than humans, so we'd never get away without a fight.”
“Right,” Harry agreed. He glanced around for a weapon. Stumped, he looked up at his quasi-father-in-law. “Can you use seaweed as a whip?”
“I'm sure someone can, but my whip experience ended in a rather painful attempt at emulating Indiana Jones,” Xander replied.
“Myself as well,” put in another man with a French accent. He was older, perhaps early middle age, and unlike Xander, he actually showed it around the middle and around the eyes. His hair was dyed, but still had that slickness of a tell, giving it away. “Eet waz razzer bad. Eez zat 'ow you lost your eye?”
“Nope, a preacher thought I saw too much and stuck his thumb in it,” Xander replied honestly. He held out his hand. “Xander Harris.”
“Truly? I would not zink one of your renown would be in zuch a predicament az thiz,” the man asked, taking the carpenter's hand.
“Ya hoid a me?” he asked in his best Bugs Bunny.
“Oui,” the man replied. “I am named Delacour.”
“Nice to meet you,” Xander said.
“It is, aa you zay, likewize,” the man replied before glancing at Harry's forehead.
The boy sighed and rolled his eyes.
“'Arry Potter,” Delacour commented, glancing at the boy's forehead. “You are a surprize az well.”
“I hate this scar,” Harry grumbled, running a finger over the offending mark. Xander shrugged.
“At least he didn't ask for your autograph,” the one-eyed man commented. Harry crossed his arms over his seaweed clad chest and scowled.
“Msr Potter, you will find zat France does not 'ave the zame kind of willful ignorance an' obzession with your pozition zat you find en Britain,” Delacour commented.
“Are you a...you know?” Harry asked.
“Am I a wizard? Oui,” Delacour replied with a slight smile. “An' my daughterz are no doubt mizzing me az we speak.”
The Delacour daughters were surprisingly creative in their abuse of their captive fishman. Newly seventeen, Fleur was blatantly breaking the International Statute of Secrecy casting hex after hex at the hapless amphibian humanoid. Said fishman was cowering as psychedelic squirrels spontaneously climbed out his ears, his tail transformed into something resembling a cat's, and his nose was something between a tapir and an elephant.
“Lose a man?” Hermione asked in french.
“Oui, mon Pere” Fleur replied as her little sister stabbed the fishman with a piece of driftwood. The poor Sunnydale survivor cried pitifully as scales flaked off his fishy form. “Je m'appelle Fleur Delacour.”
“Je m'appelle Hermione Granger,” Hermione replied.
“It iz okay, I speak Anglaise,” Fleur replied.
“Oh, thank you,” Buffy said. “I mean, I speak Halloween French, but that's like not this French.”
Fleur looked at the blonde woman with confusion. “I zought I spoke English, but zhat made no sense.”
“Aunt Buffy doesn't speak English or French,” Hermione replied. “She speaks Californian and 15th Century French, so that doesn't really help in common conversation outside of talking with really old demons and vampires and the occasional lich. She still gets elevator and lift confused.”
“Okay, so let's start planning our escape,” Xander said, clapping his hands together. They could see that the light was weakening as things got darker.
“Didn't you just say that we couldn't get out of here without a fight?” Harry asked.
“Yeah, and that's why we fight,” Xander said. “Because if we don't. The womenfolk are going to burst in here and save our bits just as the demon we've been captured for is about to eat us, and we'll never, ever hear the end of things.”
“Don't you mean, saving our butts?” one man asked.
“No,” Xander replied. “No, I don't.”
“I thought you used to get rescued all the time?” Harry asked.
Xander scowled. “Yes, and they've never let me hear the end of it,” he grumbled.
“We should find our sings,” another man commented with a German accent that didn't translate well into text. “Aye ahm missing mine money and mine passport.”
Many of the other men made similar comments.
“Right, so has anyone tried to take off the bondage-weed, yet?” Xander asked. One embarrassed man blushed an mumbled something about the seaweed “hugging” certain bits of anatomy if the such an attempt was made. “Okay, so that explains the lack of prison bars.”
On the surface, Dawn was doing a tracking spell.
“This would be so much easier if one of you were kidnapped,” she muttered glancing at her daughter and sister.
“Why iz zat?” asked Fleur.
“Because I could track the blood,” Dawn replied. “Now, I can only hope that they're all in the same place.”
The spell hit the map and centered on a spot directly at their location.
“Underground lair,” all three Summers women stated flatly.
“How do you know?” Fleur asked.
“Because it's always an underground lair,” Buffy said. “For once, I'd like a nice high rise apartment lair, maybe with some leather couches and fruity drinks. But no! I have to climb in the sewers, or dig through pits and mass graves that haven't been disturbed by humans for hundreds of years and ruin another set of clothes.”
“I'm sure that eventually, you'll find a bad guy that is more concerned with his appearance than his evil plots,” Tonks said, putting an arm around Buffy's waist. Buffy leaned in.
“It's just not fair, and I just bought this jacket yesterday.”
Dawn just shook her head at her sister. “Buffy, grow up.”
“I don't wanna!”
Okay, so five hours of searching later, there's no clothing, no gear and attempting to swim away just makes the bondage weed 'hug' a little closer and take root on whatever it could. Of course, since most of the men attempted to escape together, they were currently in one long man-chain.
“We're doomed,” Xander said.
“Why?” Harry inquired.
“Because here they come,” Xander replied.
“Yup,” Xander replied, looking up at a small legion of fishmen dressed up like Roman Legionnaires with muscular armor, scales and long spears. Each wore a barnacle encrusted Gladius on each hip and carried a tower shield. “You know, I'd think that it would be a little difficult to fight like that under water.”
“Az would I,” Delacour agreed. He listened to the classical Latin they issued forth and nodded. “Zey are to bring us to ze Leader.”
Harry squirmed as he watched them put strange looking giant snails on the captives' faces and glanced over at Xander, who had a similarly uncomfortable expression. Xander glanced at Delacour.
“Eet iz to let uz breathe,” the other man replied.
After a bit of squirming on Harry's part, they were all fitted with the breathing snails and dragged to the back of the cavern. They walked down corridors and pathways they couldn't see because of the snails and eventually dragged into warm waters, this time fresh and brought up into another Grotto. Xander stood up, removed the snail from his face and gawked at what he saw.
It wasn't the mass of captive men; it wasn't the full Legion of Fishmen in full armor; no, it wasn't even the scantily clad fishwoman with “generous” proportions sitting on a throne made of mother of pearl (in the sense that the throne was a giant clam, open and its meaty bits were her cushions). No, it wasn't even the gold that decorated the new grotto.
It was the giant marble statue carved with exacting detail that stood above the bethroned woman.
“Awe crap!” Xander said. “It's Coach Marin!”
Dawn noticed that the fishman heard her sister's name and abruptly became very, very still. He only moved his eyes as he glanced at the blonde woman and at the nasty looking dagger she held along her forearm. He then swore heavily in Classical Latin. The things he said under his breath cannot be repeated nor translated because the very words would curdle mortal brains. Dawn being the Key, wasn't mortal, and so it was fine. The Fishman did continue on and talk about the dark one, Buffy and how she destroyed the Creator, the deity known only as Coach.
“Sunnydale alert,” Dawn replied. Buffy scowled and harrumphed.
“I thought they looked familiar,” the Slayer complained. “Which one is he?”
“I think he's a later generation,” Dawn replied. She asked the critter something in classical Latin and it replied in kind. “It says that it's been seven generations since they left the land and escaped your wrath.”
“My wrath?” Buffy asked.
“You're their devil figure, the destroyer,” Dawn explained.
“I'm not a devil!”
“No, you're their version of an evil deity,” Dawn explained further. “They think you killed their creator.”
“But they ate him!” Buffy protested.
Dawn asked the fishman another question, and got a burbling reply in Latin.
“He says that you cast the Coach down from heaven,
“He fell in a hole!”
“-and chased them from the land-”
“They did that themselves when they shed their skin!
“-and into the sanctity of the sea,” Dawn translated.
“That was just swimming out the sewer to the coast!”
Dawn just shrugged.
Hermione, Fleur and her sister looked on with amazement. Hermione turned to the two french girls and shrugged. “Religion, who can really figure it out?”
“Oh, you're one to talk, miss 'Specter-of-the-Oncoming-Storm'” her mother chided. Hermione immediately went pale and glanced around.
“Don't call me that!” she hissed, glancing around nervously to see if anyone had heard. “That was an accident!”
“Same here,” Buffy said, holding up a hand. “So, you've got a fishman, we've got a fishman. Anybody got a leash? We'll go man hunting.”
“That just sounds wrong,” Hermione said. She cocked her head as Gabrielle commented about the situation in French and blushed. Dawn glanced between the two with a confused look. Fleur just rolled up a newspaper and whacked her little sister on the back of the head.
“Nozhing wrong 'ere,” Fleur commented. “Ma souer, my sister, is, 'ow you say, ah, oui, a pervert.”
“She's like nine,” Buffy commented.
“Oh, she's a pervert, alright,” Hermione confirmed. “Age has nothing to do with it.”
And that was how Fleur and Hermione became friends.
The woman on the throne looked like a what you would get if HR Geiger and Frazetta teamed up for a painting. Blessed with bright eyes that seemed to almost glow green, her skin was covered in black and dark, dark green scales that were meshed with hips and breasts that Hollywood wishes they could reproduce. (Why a clearly non-mammal had mammary glands, no one knew, but it was the least of the captives' problems). She wore a white dress that looked like it was right off the set of Cleopatra and enough gems to double France's GNP if sold.
She stood up, raising a hand, bringing silence to the crowd. As one, the fishy legionnaires turned and knelt before the idol of Coach Marin. She began speaking in Classical Latin, which the soldiers repeated on occasion.
“So, any bets? Forced Harem for the priestess or human sacrifice?” Xander asked. “I'm leaning towards harem.”
“Are those the only choices?”
“Well, there's always 'let's make a trap for the Slayer by kidnapping her friends' but I'm not getting that vibe here, too many innocents,” Xander mused. “And if they were vampires, I'd say they were going for a mass fledging, but these are fishmen—OH CRAP! THEY'VE GOT A SAUNA!”
Harry looked up to see some of the men being dragged to a steamy room.“Why are you so afraid of saunas?” Harry asked.
“Because that's how they got made in the first place!” Xander replied worriedly. “I don' wanna be a fishman!”
“Neazer do I!” cried another man.
“So we must rise up and resist the strangely comfortable seaweed and fight back!” Xander said, standing to his feet. He held up a hand and looked a little too much like the hero on the cover of a romance novel. “Cry Havoc and punch repeatedly the fish of war!”
The fishy legionnaires did not expect a mass battle to take place. And fishmen, while quite strong, were rather ungainly on the surface, and their tactics were not quite as good as it should have been. Xander tripped one, wrenched the spear out of its hands and kicked another in the face. That hurt a lot because fishmen have rather scaly and pointy faces. Harry followed along, grabbing a sword. He still didn't know how to use one, but he'd had luck with one in second year, so he figured it was worth a chance. He was well acquainted with the basic idea—put the stabby end in the other guy.
While their initial attack was successful, the human men/sacrifices/transformation subjects were beaten back when the roman fishmen fell into a phalanx and started herding them towards the sauna.
“This isn't good!” Harry commented as the men in the line directly behind him, Delacour and Xander were forced to retreat into the Sauna.
“Don't worry,” Xander said. “Buffy, Tonks, Dawn and Hermione are due right about-”
There was a massive explosion on the other side of the grotto as Buffy pulled a Kool-aid-Man and busted right through the wall, sword in one hand, giant troll hammer in the other.
“-Now,” Xander finished. He waved as his wife crept through the hole in the wall after her sister. “Hi, Honey!”
“How's Harry?” Dawn asked.
Harry jumped up so he could be seen over the line of flabbergasted fishmen. “I'm okay!”
The fishmen stared at Buffy, taking in her appearance, shivered and turned white in fear, before promptly running away. The fishy priestess climbed inside her clam throne and pulled it shut. The mollusk sprouted legs and ran towards the water, sinking beneath the surface with a plop. Buffy gawked at the sight, glanced at Xander's appearance, then up at the marble statue.
“Oh you've gotta be kidding me!”
Xander nodded sadly. “They've even got a sauna.”
Dawn and Hermione looked at their men, both dressed only their seaweed swimsuits, and started to drool.
“Iz eet over?” Fleur asked as she walked in with her little sister and Tonks.
“I think so,” Tonks said. “But I was expecting an epic battle that I could brag about back home. This was rather anticlimactic.”
“Fate will remember that when it's your initiation,” Dawn said, as she nonchalantly cleaned her mouth. It was Tonks' turn to shiver in fear. “Well, might as well pull those guys out of the Sauna and start their detox.”
Hermione ran over and pulled Harry into a hug.
“It's okay,” Harry said, returning the hug. “I'm alright.”
“I was so angry,” Hermione growled. “Not at you, Harry.”
“Well, we can go back to the beach as soon as I change,” Harry commented. “I doubt they'll try again this soon.”
“You're not changing,” Hermione said.
“Why haven't you found my clothes and things?”
“Even if we did, you're not changing,” the girl said flatly with just a slight bit of drool on her lips, but that might have been a trick of the light.
“Because I said so.”
The rest of their vacation was pleasant without incident except for when Harry's seaweed dried up and fell off at a rather ill opportune moment, but that is a tale for another time.
Next Time: There will be TEXT!